The readings in Charleston Thursday night from After Shocks: The Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events went very, very well. About 60 people showed up, helped by a Sunday news feature in the Charleston newspaper and two TV spots my publicist was able to line up for me that day.
The reading featured 8 Carolina contributors to After Shocks: Paul Allen, Linda Annas Ferguson, Barbara G.S. Hagerty, Richard Garcia, Kurt Lamkin, Susan Meyers, Gail Peck, and South Carolina Poet Laureate Marjory Wentworth. Things went very smoothly, considering the individual readings were quite short, 2 poems apiece. I was able to insert little bits of information about the anthology as a whole in between the readers ("15-second ads"). The entire reading took one hour, then the book signing lasted about 30 or so minutes. I had invited each contributor to sell his/her recent books, too, and a few of those were also sold and signed. The Friends of the Charleston Library managed the selling of the books.
Kurt Lamkin graciously played his Kora before and after the reading. The Kora is a 21-stringed West African instrument. The large, round gourd-like body sits in the players lap, and the neck stands up about three more feet. The nylon strings face the player, who plucks them while facing the neck. The sound is wonderful. It's been described as a harp-lute, but that doesn't quite capture it exactly. Google Kora, and you will find links with samples. Kurt has performed internationally. Not only sounds great, but he looks great playing it, too.
I was on TV twice on Thursday in Charleston to promote the book and the evening reading, at the ABC affiliate and the CBS affiliate. And this was great experience for future publicity efforts. I had done some production work in the past from behind the camera, but this was my first time in front of the live camera, and it does jangle the nerves a bit. During my time on "Low Country Live" at the ABC affiliate, Channel 4, the two interviewers were prepared, interested, and asked good questions. Lasted about 5 minutes. Afterwards, the woman interviewer, Ryan, told me her college roommate had been murdered by a stalker and that her fiancé had died in an auto wreck. I felt that connection that shared grief enables, and I inscribed her copy with a deeply heartfelt message. The afternoon segment at Channel 5 news was very brief..."After Shocks...reading tonight at the library...Yes, my wife died...Oh, yes, I recovered, sort of...Next up, how pregnant women can prevent radiation damage to their fetuses..." I was on camera for 75 seconds.
All in all, a good day. Because Charleston was the first public reading, I can now say proudly: After Shocks: The Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events is now officially launched.
You can see more about After Shocks at: